Today at noon, members of a group protesting strip mining on Blair Mountain will rally outside the Culture Center on the State Capitol complex in Charleston for the protection of the Blair Mountain Battlefield and to raise awareness about the largest labor uprising in US history, according to a press release from the Friends of Blair Mountain group.
Blair Mountain, which sits just a few miles outside the city of Logan, was he site of the largest labor uprising in U.S. history. In 1921, over 10,000 unionizing coal miners marched and fought against law enforcement officers and security forces hired by coal operators.
The press release said speakers will ask state agencies to preserve the Blair Mountain battlefield.
Currently, coal companies which own the mineral rights and property that makes up much of Blair Mountain are wanting to mine the coal through mountain top removal mining, against which the Blair Mountain support group has been fighting for several years.
The group wants the State Historic Preservation Office to protect the battlefield. The press release said the group will be presenting a petition with over 26,000 signatures to the SHPO.
“Blair Mountain is the most important labor heritage site in the nation and we are absolutely confident that by working together a solution can be found that protects the battlefield, grows the local economy, and allows us to meet our energy needs,” Joe Stanley a retired union miner scheduled to speak at the rally, said in the press release. “But we need our state politicians and agencies, such as the State Historic Preservation Office, to work with the people rather than against us.”
The press release said citizens have already been developing tourism at the battlefield. It said Doug Estepp, a Mingo County native, started the successful Coal Country Tours, which features a stop at Blair Mountain. The release said Estepp plans to run twelve major tour buses in 2012.
In addition, a new heritage museum opened by Friends of Blair Mountain in the town of Blair in September.
For more information go to www.friendsofblairmountain.org.